Jera’s Jamboree would like to welcome debut author Melanie Robertson-King today.
A Shadow in the Past is Melanie Robertson-King’s debut novel. Prior to turning her hand to fiction, she wrote articles and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK. In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal.
Melanie is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Ottawa Chapter.
She lives in Brockville, Ontario, Canada along the shore of the majestic St. Lawrence River with her husband, son and oldest grandson.
Hi Melanie, thank you for joining us today.
Why did you choose Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the Victorian Era for your debut novel?
Well Sharon, I picked that particular location because my father was born near a small village in the heart of Aberdeenshire so it only seemed right that I set my novel there. I travelled to Scotland for the first time in 1993 and spent the majority of my time in that area. I fell in love with the scenery, the people, and a derelict mansion that has made its way into my novels as Weetshill.
Now for the era…
The whole premise behind a time travel novel is you have to send your hero or heroine to a different point in time—forwards or back.
Both my Scottish grandparents were born during the Victorian era. Grandpa Robertson in 1856 and Grandma Robertson in 1882 both in rural Aberdeenshire so when it came time to pick the era I would drop my heroine into, I couldn’t think of a better time and place.
There was so much happening then – the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the steam engine, electric lights, among many others.
In Scotland, the highland clearances were long-since underway and many farmers were put off their farms by their wealthy landlords for the raising of sheep. These people moved in vast numbers to the cities, primarily Glasgow, in their search for employment and parts well beyond.
The whole time was exciting and different. Things people never dreamed possible became just that.
In my own genealogical research, I’ve come across snippets of how these events affected my own family like the fact that my father and four of his siblings were raised at the Orphan Homes of Scotland, founded by William Quarrier. My father and four of his siblings went there in 1917 and gradually emigrated to Canada between 1922 and 1930, so it seemed only fitting I mention the place that’s so important to my heritage in my novel. In addition to helping the orphaned and destitute children, William Quarrier built a tuberculosis sanatorium and a treatment centre for epilepsy. Sadly, the latter didn’t open until the year after his death. And speaking of death, it wasn’t until well after William Quarrier died that the village he founded was renamed Quarriers Village.
With my family ties to some of what took place during the Victorian era, doesn’t it make sense? I think so.
Thank you for sharing that with us Melanie.
I’m sure my readers will join in wishing you success with A Shadow in the Past.
When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…
Nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on then suffers the consequences.
When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?
We start A Shadow in the Past with a prologue. 9 year old Sarah Shand goes to the stone circle with her grandmother. She has an inquisitive mind and through questioning her grandmother we are introduced to Weetshill Mansion, both it’s past and it’s present state of disrepair. The reader is also made aware of a paranormal event.
As Chapter One starts it is ten years later. Sarah is heartbroken over a recent split from her long-term boyfriend and gives her cause to question her friendships. She makes a drastic decision with leads to an accident and she loses consciousness. When she wakes, she stumbles her way to a building and before collapsing, realises it is Weetshill Mansion but it is no longer in disrepair.
When she wakes she thinks she’s in an historical re-enactment as the costumes of the people around her are from history. Looking at a newspaper tells her it is the same day and month … but the year is 1886.
While Sarah is trying to make sense of what is happening and becoming involved in the lives of those around her, briefly we see what is happening with her own family.
Sarah’s character is true to life…from the way she acts as a teenager in her own time to the uncertainty and fear of finding herself in 1886. Conflict and tension sees her grow and develop. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her relationship unfold with the young Jenny and the role she chose to play in her life. Sarah’s abduction and the secret that’s uncovered add conflict and tension.
Life in Victorian Scotland with it’s superstitions and expectations is well written. It was interesting to be able to step back in time and experience the medication and life in an asylum! I also learnt something about Scottish customs …rituals celebrating death and bethrothal. The kistin was written so well I felt as if I stood alongside Sarah.
I must admit to being a little disappointed at the end but that’s because I wanted all the loose ends to be tied up. The thought of those Sarah leaves behind sobbing and not knowing why will haunt me!
My rating is based on the targeted audience:
Twitter Account @RobertsoKing
Melanie is giving away a mouse mat:
To enter, just leave a pick me comment. The giveaway is open Internationally and will close 13th October 2012 at midnight BST).